This past July I spent a happy afternoon at the Potsdam Summerfest. The sunny streets and sidewalks were filled with the usual vendors—spicy sausages, hoodies & T-shirts, tattoo artists, all sorts of arts and crafts caught my eye. What caught my ear was the barrage of sound coming from the main stage. The music was being hammered out by four guys aligned in a standard rock format—drums, bass, and two guitars. I didn’t know most of the songs, but they jammed with enthusiasm and performed a great cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla.” I asked around and discovered that the band was Atom Ghost—from Massena, I was told. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the entire set.
Time passed. Eventually, Atom Ghost’s first CD, Big Hand, came into my possession. I’ve listened to it numerous times, and let me tell you it’s a grand recording, both the technical aspects and the musical quality. Let’s go over the eight songs, shall we. Up first is “Travelin’ Show”; perhaps my favorite, this song rambles along at an easy, unhurried pace, starting off with a tasty 2-minute guitar solo leading to the vocals. “Big Hand” and “Tiny God” are well-done moderate-intensity rockers with words that mean something. A bit slower, “Shakin’ Still” hooks you with a catchy melody and an impressive concluding guitar solo. “Tiger’s Tale” reminds me musically of some old Rod Stewart songs and cautions listeners to be careful around certain people. “Frieghofer’s Jam” is an instrumental constructed of the complex interplay of drums, bass, and guitars. Track #7 (it’s unnamed) is a gentle slow-paced instrumental that actually includes a line or two of far-off singing. In Track #8 (also unnamed), this jam band successfully tries its big hand at the blues.
The members of the band prefer to be known on a first-name basis. There’s Kevin, the chief songwriter, on guitar and vocals, Greg on guitar and vocals, Matt on bass and vocals, and Rusty on the drums. These guys play to the song, the music, with no ostentatious displays of ego. Each instrument plays its part & no more. The vocals are raspy and affable. The guys cite The Dead, The Beatles, Frank Zappa, .moe, and Ween as main influences.
Check out the Atom Ghost website, a variety of items such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, Hoodies, trucker hats, panties, baby onesies, water bottles, and more for sale, all emblazoned with a variant of the Atom Ghost logo. You’ll also find info on Rancho Relaxo, their second CD, released in November. If you don’t know about Atom Ghost, I seriously advise you to give them a listen.